Scripture passage: How deserted lies the city, once so full of people! How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations! She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave. Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are upon her cheeks. Among all her lovers there is none to comfort her. All her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies. After affliction and harsh labor, Judah has gone into exile. She dwells among the nations; she finds no resting place. All who pursue her have overtaken her in the midst of her distress. The roads to Zion mourn, for no one comes to her appointed feasts. All her gateways are desolate, her priests groan, her maidens grieve, and she is in bitter anguish. Her foes have become her masters; her enemies are at ease. The LORD has brought her grief because of her many sins. Her children have gone into exile, captive before the foe. All the splendor has departed from the Daughter of Zion. Her princes are like deer that find no pasture; in weakness they have fled before the pursuer. (Lamentations 1:1-6)
The desolation of Jerusalem: Lamentations is Jeremiah’s song of sorrow for Jerusalem’s destruction.
The nation of Judah had been utterly defeated, the Temple was destroyed, the great capital city of the Jews-- daughter Zion, is no longer flourishing, and the people have been exiled to Babylon. Jeremiah’s tears were not only for the suffering and humiliation of the people, but they were the intense tears of his heart. Jeremiah looks at Jerusalem, the capital and representative of Judah, and contrasts what she once had been with what she now is. He wept because God had rejected the people for their rebellious ways. The wicked inhabitants were more than the godly. Holiness had almost become an alien concept.
The great city, Jerusalem had become a widow, not because God had died, but because God had deserted her. She is alone, defeated and in anguish, knowing rejection and hopelessness.
Jerusalem is pictured as weeping, not merely because of her sufferings, but even more because she had been betrayed by her "lovers" and "friends." None of her lovers-- Egypt and other nations-- who she turned to, instead of God, came to her aid, or comforted her. They left her to cope with the situation alone. Zion's majesty has collapsed. Her "princes" have fled like famished stags before the hunters, caring nothing for the herd. Twice Jerusalem yielded without a fight; and at the last Zedekiah and his captains fled for their lives, abandoning the doomed city.
Suffering comes into every life: Many of us are no different from Jerusalem. We have the propensity to turn to other resources for help before we turn to God. We forget that in order to sing the Lord’s song in any and all situations we must trust in God to deliver us. Our faith in Almighty God should dictate our actions.
Being Christian does not guarantee a pain-free existence. In fact, our faith exposes us to difficulties and struggles that we may not otherwise have experienced. We must remember that the traumas of life are not all for the same reason.
Suffering is not always punishment. On the one hand, God does allow people to face the miserable consequences of their sinful choices, but it doesn’t mean that every suffering person in the world is being punished.
On the other hand, however, God sometimes allows people to suffer in order (1) to strengthen their resolve, (2) to shake them out of their complacency, or (3) to help them empathize with other people. As quiet as it’s kept, when we suffer, God is still present with us.
How can we sing the Lord’s song? When Judah was asked by their captors to sing one of their songs of Zion, Judah asked, “How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” (Psalm137:4).
They realized that they could remember the goodness and blessings of God in Jerusalem, but they were bitter and angry at their loss, and at Babylon. They could not muster up the Lord’s song, but did thank God for future deliverance.
It is easier to focus on traumatic times than to focus on the goodness of the Lord and what God has already done for us. When we, however, trust in God and have faith in what He is doing in our lives, we can change our perspective on life’s traumas. God does not leave our side when we suffer. The Psalmist declared, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (Psalm 23:4-6)
We can sing the Lord’s song:
Faith is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is complete trust and loyalty to God that results in a willingness to do God’s will. The amount of faith is not as important as the right kind of faith-- faith in our all-powerful God.
God can be trusted. We can have confidence that God will do as God has promised. We can have that faith that causes us to be bold in times of uncertainty. We can sing the Lord’s song with our very lives because our genuine faith will not let us do any less.
We can sing the Lord’s song, in the midst of persecution. We can sing the Lord’s song, when we have been wronged. We can sing the Lord’s song, when we have been rejected. We can sing the Lord’s song, when we have been ostracized. We can sing the Lord’s song, when we have been wounded and broken. We can forgive, forget and genuinely love those who have hurt us. God is able to do all things. We can sing the Lord’s song, because of what God has done, is doing, and promises to do in each of our lives. We can sing the Lord’s song because God gives us the love, power and self-discipline to be all we can be in Christ Jesus.